Feeds

NYT scareware scam linked to click fraud botnet

Ukrainian fan club cheer on all sorts of mischief

Reducing security risks from open source software

A botnet, initially run through compromised servers in the Bahamas, has been blamed for the recent upsurge in scareware scams.

Researchers from security firm Click Forensics have tied the Bahama botnet to a recent attack that resulted in pop-up ads punting rogue anti-virus software appearing via the New York Times website. The scam attempted to trick surfers into purchasing software called Personal Antivirus by falsely warning that their systems were infected with non-existent threats.

Personal Antivirus, far from offering a clean-up utility as advertised, infected compromised systems with a Trojan. Click Forensics said this Trojan is distributed by a gang of cybercrooks in the Ukraine called the Ukrainian fan club, who are also heavily involved in click fraud.

"We believe the Bahama botnet is controlled by this same gang, or their neighbors down the street," Click Forensics reports. "We’re pretty sure the Bahama botnet is related to the Ukrainian fan club and the NYTimes.com scareware because they each phone back to a bogus 'Windows protection' domain located on the same IP address."

Compromised hosts in the Bahama botnet generate auto-generated clicks as part of a click fraud scam that offers an additional income for crooks. This click fraud traffic is carefully designed to elude detection by search engines and ad networks by mimicking genuine searches. "The botnet is effectively disguising the fraud it produces as 'good traffic' by altering the interval and breadth of the attacks across legions of infected machines," Paul Pellman, chief exec of Click Forensic, explained.

Click Forensics first detected the Bahama botnet when they discovered it was redirecting traffic through 200,000 parked domain sites located in the Bahamas. Since then the zombie network has been reprogrammed to redirect traffic through other intermediate sites hosted in the Netherlands, US and the UK. The click fraud carried out by the botnet is explained in more detail in the video (below).

More on the Ukrainian "fan club" and its involvement in the NYT malvertisement campaign can be found in a blog post by independent security researcher Dancho Danchev here. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot
Dirty QWERTY a perfect P@ssword1 for garbage websites
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.